Rieli Franciscato Brazilian expert on Amazon tribes killed by arrow by remote indigenous Brazil tribesman. Attack follows heightened efforts to deforest surrounding lands.
An ironic death. A top expert and defender of indigenous peoples in Brazil was killed by an arrow after being fired by a member of an isolated tribe in the Amazon rainforest, according to reports.
Rieli Franciscato, 56, died Wednesday in the Seringueiras region, a remote municipality in the northern state of Rondonia, according to the Brazilian government’s indigenous affairs office, FUNAI, where he worked.
Franciscato was the head of a program, Uru Eu Wau Wau Ethno-Environmental Protection to protect indigenous groups that have little or no contact with the outside world.
The researcher was accompanied by a police patrol, with a former head of FUNAI saying their presence may have triggered the attack. Others speculated the environmentalist may have been confused for an invader.
FUNAI declined to say how Rieli was killed, but witnesses said Franciscato was shot with an arrow as he monitored recent appearances by a tribe known as the ‘Cautario River isolated group,’ according to photojournalist Gabriel Uchida, Agence France-Presse reported.
Sad to read of Rieli Franciscato’s death, an expert who defended Amazon tribes, killed by an uncontacted group whose lands are being destroyed. “Rieli’s killing and the group’s appearance are almost certainly a response to the immense pressure they are under” – @Survival pic.twitter.com/xBG6u8ZySc
— Jack Losh (@jacklosh) September 11, 2020
Indigenous tribes people under threat
When Rieli’s team faced a barrage of arrows, they ran to take shelter behind a vehicle, but he was hit in the chest, witnesses said.
‘He cried out, pulled the arrow from his chest, ran 50 meters and collapsed, lifeless,’ a police officer who accompanied the expedition posted on social media.
The tribe is ‘known as a peaceful group,’ Uchida told AFP in an email.
‘The last time they appeared in the region was in June. … It was a larger group, very peaceful. They even left presents at someone’s house,’ he said.
‘This time, there were just five armed men — a war party. That means something must have happened to make them seek ‘revenge,’’ Uchida added.
Such groups had responded with force when illegal miners or poachers encroach on their land at times, said Uchia, adding that there were some reports of such activity in the area.
The Kaninde Ethno-Environmental Defence Association, which Rieli helped create in the 1980s, said the indigenous group had no ability to distinguish between a friend or a foe from the outside world.
A Brazilian government official and expert on isolated Amazon tribes was killed by an arrow as he approached an indigenous group he was seeking to shield.
Rieli Franciscato, 56,worked to set up reservations to protect uncontacted tribes. pic.twitter.com/zSk5qGrpzH
— Apex World News (@apexworldnews) September 11, 2020
Killed by greed
The Brazilian Amazon is home to at least 100 isolated tribes, according to indigenous rights group Survival International.
The organization described Rieli’s death as a ‘tragic and immeasurable loss.’
‘He refused to accept the violent greed destroying the Amazon rainforest and its best guardians,’ it said, ‘He worked tirelessly to protect the lands of un-contacted tribes from outsiders.’
‘He dedicated his life to it, working on the front line to combat the illegal invasions by loggers, ranchers and miners who threaten to wipe out the most vulnerable peoples on the planet.’
The attack follows heightened efforts to integrate the indigenous into broader Brazilian society with tribal advocates accusing industry of seeking to exploit the Amazon’s natural resources.
Conservationists blame Brazil’s Bolsonaro and his government for defunding agencies including Funai and the environmental enforcement agency Ibama and turning a blind eye to farmers and loggers clearing land in the Amazon, hastening deforestation and threatening the very survival of indigenous groups who subsist of the remote lands.